Qataris were interested in Full Play, trial hears

Full Play, which has been accused of bribing football executives, held talks with an entity associated with Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi over a possible sale of the sports marketing agency, according to testimony in the trial of three ex-football officials from Latin America by Santiago Pena, a former financial executive at the Argentinian business.

Pena spoke in US federal court as a prosecution witness and referred to Al-Khelaifi (pictured) only by his first name and as the “head of… Paris Saint-Germain.”

He claimed that Al-Khelaifi had been in talks with the owners of Full Play, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, who have both been indicted on corruption charges by the US Department of Justice.

He said that the talks took place over a lengthy period of time and were dubbed the ‘New York project’, as a deal for 51 per cent of Full Play had been valued at $212m (€180m) – 212 is New York City’s dialling code. The buyers would have had the right to acquire an additional nine per cent at a later date, he claimed.

Pena, who reached a deal this year to testify in exchange for not being charged, added that talks with Al-Khelaifi and Qatar Sports Investments ended on May 27, 2015, when prosecutors unsealed indictments against Hugo and Mariano Jinkis.

“I always considered myself a completely small fish in this issue,” he said.

A statement from Qatar Sports Investments said, according to the Guardian newspaper: “Qatar regularly looks at investment with their funds. This investment was proposed and considered, after review it was decided not to pursue. This happens very often.”

The three figures on trial are Juan Angel Napout, the ex-president of Paraguay’s national governing body; Jose Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil’s national federation; and Manuel Burga, the ex-head of Peru’s football federation. They are facing charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy in the Brooklyn court.